Increased sex chromosome expression and epigenetic abnormalities in spermatids from male mice with Y chromosome deletions

J Cell Sci. 2009 Nov 15;122(Pt 22):4239-48. doi: 10.1242/jcs.049916. Epub 2009 Oct 27.


During male meiosis, the X and Y chromosomes are transcriptionally silenced, a process termed meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI). Recent studies have shown that the sex chromosomes remain substantially transcriptionally repressed after meiosis in round spermatids, but the mechanisms involved in this later repression are poorly understood. Mice with deletions of the Y chromosome long arm (MSYq-) have increased spermatid expression of multicopy X and Y genes, and so represent a model for studying post-meiotic sex chromosome repression. Here, we show that the increase in sex chromosome transcription in spermatids from MSYq- mice affects not only multicopy but also single-copy XY genes, as well as an X-linked reporter gene. This increase in transcription is accompanied by specific changes in the sex chromosome histone code, including almost complete loss of H4K8Ac and reduction of H3K9me3 and CBX1. Together, these data show that an MSYq gene regulates sex chromosome gene expression as well as chromatin remodelling in spermatids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism
  • Chromosome Deletion*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Genes, X-Linked / genetics*
  • Genes, Y-Linked / genetics*
  • Histone Code / physiology
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Meiosis / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Spermatids / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Up-Regulation
  • Y Chromosome / genetics*
  • Y Chromosome / metabolism*


  • Cbx1 protein, mouse
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Histones